Monthly Archives: August 2018

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The Bachelor’s Alex Nation accuses teammates of backstabbing

Alex Nation has accused a member from her AFL club of backstabbing after one opened up to Woman’s Day magazine about yet another relationship she was allegedly in at a time when everyone believed she was still dating The Bachelor Richie Strahan.

The tabloid claims Nation, 26, “dated” her Frankston Bombers coach’s son, Dale White, 22, for two months, leaving him “totally heartbroken” when she dumped him at their mid-season footy ball and took up with her current girlfriend, Maegan Luxa, 31.

“Alex was telling everyone she had a crush on Maegan and then they shared a shoey [drank out of a shoe] and the rest was history,” they added.

The Bachelor star Alex Nation with her new girlfriend, Maegan Luxa. Photo: Diimex

After the story was printed, Nation, a mother-of-one from the Mornington Peninsula, sent a message en masse to the club saying whoever had provided the “very elaborate information” had “stabbed” her in the back and she felt “saddened”.

She added to Fairfax Media: “The girls on my actual football team would never do this to me. However, sadly an individual from the football club has decided to stoop to an astoundingly low level.”

Woman’s Day was also in the firing line, when she took to her Instagram with over 105k followers to call the article “trash”.

After a month of refusing to confirm or deny their split, Nation did so by announcing her relationship with Luxa.

She plans to vote “yes” in the upcoming Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

“I will absolutely be voting for marriage equality and would proudly support it in any way I possibly can,” Nation added to Fairfax Media.

“Love wins.”

Meanwhile, the Perth-based rope technician has yet to comment publicly on the split, but has continued to “like” Nation’s Instagram posts.

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New record for Double Bay with $10.5 million penthouse sale

The sale of two apartments in Double Bay’s new luxury 1788 development has smashed the suburb apartment record, cementing its place as one of Sydney’s premium downsizer markets.

The bullish sales coincide with Woollahra Council’s decision on Friday to give in principle agreement to allow the return of a cinema to the suburb for the first time since 2004 when the Greater Union complex was closed and moved to Westfield Bondi Junction.

The penthouse atop the six-storey building sold for $10.5 million shortly before Saturday’s VIP launch of the 31 apartments, followed by an apartment on level three for $9.6 million.

Empty nesters from Darling Point and Bellevue Hill were credited with securing the development’s top two sales, both topping the suburb’s previous apartment high of $8.9 million set in 2014 when the Chancellor penthouse sold to Lynette Harvey, former wife of retail billionaire Gerry Harvey.

Ben Stewart, a director of CBRE, declined to reveal the buyers’ identities, but had previously predicted that the vast majority of buyers would come from local downsizers.

At 180 square metres, the penthouse sale translates to a bullish $58,333 per square metre.

Local agent Brad Caldwell-Eyles, of 1st City, said: “Double Bay’s premium stock is generally returning about $30,000 a square metre and $35,000 a square metre for penthouses.”

By lunchtime on Saturday 11 of the 31 apartments had been sold, worth more than $55 million, according to Mr Stewart.

Designed by Bates Smart, it is due to be complete by early 2019.

The 1788 is being developed by SJD Group, headed by Shanghai developer Shi Jiandong, who bought the Cross Street site from the Rich Lister Roche family late last year for $54.6 million. The company bought the site next door in July for $45 million from the wealthy dry cleaning business owning Eisman family.

Double Bay’s run of bullish residential site and apartment sales coincides with rising commercial and retail rental rates as well, according to Mr Caldwell-Eyles.

As part of Woollahra Council’s bid to lead a revitalisation of Double Bay it entered into a public-private partnership with Axiom Properties and its development and cinema consortium, Built and Palace Cinemas, to convert the public car park on Cross Street into a mixed residential and commercial building with a boutique cinema complex, retail space and public parking.

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Cats greats to retire as sad end beckons for Stevie J

Geelong stalwarts Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan will retire at the end of this season, as a sad end looms for their longtime teammate Steve Johnson.

Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron denied the end had come for Johnson, but the veteran is under immense pressure to retain his place in the team after a poor performance against the Cats.

The Giants were well beaten, by 44 points, as the Cats booked a home qualifying final. The Giants will learn on Sunday if they will be heading to Adelaide or have another date with Geelong in the first week of finals.

Johnson, who struggled to hold back tears in the dressing rooms, had just eight possessions and did not trouble the scorers on a night where the Giants were comprehensively outplayed.

“I wouldn’t say that, absolutely not,” Cameron said when asked if the end had come for Johnson.

“That’s like saying is it over for one of our players for the finals series because he played poorly tonight – absolutely not.

“Our entire squad will put their hands up whose not injured and he’ll be one of them. I’ll look at that and look at who we’re playing, who suits what opposition every game that we’ll play. Hopefully we’re playing at least three of them.”

Mackie and Lonergan, both key players during the club’s dynasty, broke the news of their impending retirements to teammates after the game.

It was an understated announcement, and made so as not to provide a distraction leading into such an important match.

While they bid farewell to the Simonds Stadium faithful on Saturday night, there remains a chance they will be back in a fortnight’s time for a qualifying final. Standing in the way of those hopes is the AFL’s clear preference for finals matches to be played at the larger-capacity MCG.

“We know we have a big month ahead of us and don’t want to get too carried away being about us,” Lonergan told Channel Seven.

Lonergan played in the Cats’ 2011 premiership, as did Mackie, who also featured in the successes in 2007 and 2009. Both men were integral members of the Cats defence.

“You know when your time’s up,” said Mackie.

“It’s always been about the team for us. It’s really fitting we can get the win tonight, everyone’s happy and we move on from here and lock into something bigger.”

Cats coach Chris Scott paid a glowing tribute to the retiring duo, whom he described as selfless.

“I can say this hand on heart. There is no-one in the game I respect more than those two,” Scott said.

“I think the way that it was handled reflected very well the type of people that those guys are.

“They really wanted the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans, potentially it is the last game at Geelong, but they didn’t want to make a big song and dance of it so their request of everyone around Geelong is to focus as hard as we can in the next month ahead and that would be the best way for them to go out.

“They give to the team, they help their teammates, they sacrifice their own interests if it is necessary for the betterment of not just the team itself but the football club.”

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Computers replace humans in assessing inmates

A computer algorithm has replaced humans to assess the security risk of asylum seekers, criminals and visa overstayers in Australian immigration detention centres.

The new Security Risk Assessment Tool, designed to assess “individuals who are considered to pose an unacceptable risk to the community”, was quietly rolled out in September.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the SRAT was guided by the detainee’s behaviour both during and prior to detention, any signs of violent or aggressive behaviour and their known associations.

“It also considers a each detainee’s individual circumstances including age and health,” she said.

“As a result of these and other changes there has been a significant decrease in incidents in detention including assaults and self-harm.”

But the former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, has accused the department of abandoning professional judgment.

She said she was first made aware of the program when she visited the Yongah Hill detention centre in Western Australia earlier this year.

“I could hardly believe my ears,” she told UNSW’s Power to Persuade conference in Canberra this week. “The use of an algorithm to replace professional judgements – I thought this can’t be true, I must be back in 1984.”

After referencing George Orwell’s dystopian novel, she said an algorithm was never going to make up for a human’s discretion.

“They pump in statistical details and out comes a response that dictates whether they are in a high-security area or whether they are allowed certain privileges within the detention centre,” she said.

For example, an inmate’s risk rating determines which facility they are sent to, and whether they require mechanical constraints to attend medical appointments.

In January, the Turnbull government announced a $27.4 million upgrade to Yongah Hill, a 250-person detention centre 90 kilometres east of Perth, to turn it into a high-security centre that would house high-risk foreigners.

In a submission for the centre’s upgrade, the department argued it would be used to house “the growing number of the detention population have had their visas cancelled on character grounds, due to criminal convictions and links to organised crime or outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

The SRAT has now been rolled out across the 13 detention centres in the immigration network, including Villawood in Sydney and Maribyrnong in Melbourne.

Department figures showed there were 1262 people in immigration detention as of June 30, including 281 people on Christmas Island (but excluding those held offshore on Manus Island and Nauru).

Of the 1262 inmates, 450 were criminals who had their visas cancelled, 342 were asylum seekers who arrived by boat, and 470 were in other categories.

Natasha Blucher, detention rights advocate at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said the risk assessment algorithm was “very black and white”, and a high-risk rating could rarely be challenged or undone.

“The big problem with it is that it’s based on incident reports in immigration detention as well as history,” she said. “They don’t take into consideration people’s mental health.”

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Frank Prihoda: Australia’s oldest living Olympian’s great ski escape

Frank Prihoda 96 year old Thredbo resident and 1956 Winter Olympian in Thredbo on Friday 4 August 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares for Sun Herald Australia’s oldest living Olympian Frank Prihoda, 96, owes his freedom and sporting career to skiing.

After a communist coup in February 1948, the Czech born Mr Prihoda was among 50,000 of his countrymen – around 50 a day until 1951 – who fled the regime. Unlike most, he left on skis.

A friend drove Mr Prihoda and his brother-in-law Karel Nekvapil to near the border with Austria. At the time, all three could have been killed if caught.

“On the particular day of our escape there was snow on the ground,” said Mr Prihoda. “So we skied to a lake, which was frozen, and then skied across the frozen lake to Austria. From there we walked through the woods,” he said.

Around the same time, his sister Sasha who was also a competitive skier, was also planning to defect after she competed in the Czech women’s Olympic skiing team in Switzerland in1948.

When the team went to catch the train home, Sasha’s luggage boarded the train but not her. A bit later, friends threw her luggage off the train, being careful to keep out of sight of the team’s coach, reported The Canberra Times.

“She refused to come home with her team. Meanwhile, her husband and I were escaping,” said Mr Prihoda.

For most refugees in postwar Europe, there were few places to go. Only Canada and Australia would take them, and the trio chose Australia because of an advertisement in the London Times.

“It stated that it snowed in Australia,” he recalled. “We chose Melbourne, it had four seasons, which was closer to Czechoslovakia. The destinations for refugees was limited. The whole world wasn’t welcoming to us, So to go and settle somewhere was difficult.”

Compared to European slopes, the skiing in Australia was limited, but Mr Prihoda said it was nice and they were very happy to have a home. His sister, who died in 2014, went on to found Thredbo.

Like his sister, Mr Prihoda didn’t learn to ski until relatively late, around age 13 on a family outing.

“At the beginning it was more traumatic than pleasurable, ” he said.

But the siblings both raced competitively.

Mr Prihoda was naturalised in 1955, four years after arriving in Australia, and was chosen to represent Australia in the slalom at the Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 1956.

He was 35 then, the oldest member of the team and the oldest participant in the alpine games, a fact that was announced to everyone, he recalled.

He attributes his longevity to his life in Thredbo, where he moved in 1974 and ran a shop for many years.

“It’s due to Australia, and living in Thredbo. It is a healthy life, healthy food, healthy grog, and over the years I have had a lot of exercise.”

When he turned 90, he had to give up skiing because he was losing his sense of balance.

And until recently, he volunteered at the local museum.

Now he is slowing down.

“My heart specialist says I am living off my athletic past,” he said.


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‘You’ve got the wrong guy, you’ll see’: What Daniel Holdom told police

The photos’ of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson (left) and her daughter Khandalyce Pearce (right) lay at the roadside memorial of the location of where Khandalyce Pearce’s remains were found in a suitcase earlier this year, 2km west of Wynarka, South Australia. 17th November, 2015. Photo: Kate GeraghtyDaniel James Holdom allegedly spent most of a six-hour police interview lying about what happened to his dead ex-girlfriend and her daughter.

Then, several days later in October, 2015, Holdom, who earned the nickname “Shrek” in his former ACT neighbourhood, asked detectives to return.

Holdom had “examined his conscience”, he allegedly claimed, and wanted to tell police who really was responsible.

The accused double killer then suggested a former friend had a hand in the disappearance of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and toddler Khandalyce in 2008.

Holdom offered to go “crown witness”, court documents reveal.

However, by this stage, homicide detectives had traced Holdom’s mobile phone activity to the remote NSW forest where Ms Pearce-Stevenson was allegedly stomped on, killed and dumped in December, 2008.

The alleged web of lies and admissions that threaten to land Holdom with a life-long jail sentence for killing a mother and child can now be revealed.

It comes after details of the 42-year-old’s claims were outlined in prosecution documents tendered in Sydney’s Central Local Court this week.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s skeleton was found in the Belanglo State Forest in August, 2010, two years after police allege she was killed.

Holdom is accused of murdering the young mother and taking photos of her discarded body.

He then allegedly killed the 20-year-old’s daughter Khandalyce, stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it on the roadside in South Australia days later.

A breakthrough led to both cases being linked in early October, 2015 and the mother and daughter’s remains finally being identified.

It was only a matter of days before police were led to Holdom, who lived in Canberra’s northern suburbs with Ms Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter before they disappeared.

According to a Crown case statement tendered during Holdom’s committal hearing, NSW Homicide Squad detectives interviewed him twice in October, 2015.

During the first mammoth interview, which canvassed more than 2000 questions, Holdom provided different versions.

Initially he told police he hadn’t seen Ms Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter since dropping them at a Canberra motel in late 2008.

Holdom, as he told it, decided to get back with his ex-girlfriend inter-state.

So he swung by the motel, kissed Ms Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce goodbye and left, according to details of his interview.

Holdom said he never saw the mother and daughter again but exchanged text messages at one point.

Later in the police interview, he said he saw Ms Pearce-Stevenson in a motel the following year in Adelaide.

Then he said the Alice Springs-born mother stayed in the city for about a year after January, 2009.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson told Holdom she was going back to Queensland or back to Alice Springs “with a couple of boys she’d been talking to”, court documents state.

At Holdom’s request, detectives returned to interview him again days later.

Holdom claimed his former friend dropped Ms Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce at a bus stop and he never saw them again.

He told police that same person had disposed of Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s car on his own.

After detectives charged him with murder, Holdom said: “You’ve got the wrong guy, you’ll see.”

The court heard last week that Holdom allegedly made admissions to killing the mother and child to two witnesses.

One of those witnesses made a diary note about it.

“Daniels lied to me!” the witness, who can’t be identified, wrote.

“Said he killed Karlie and Khandal but there (sic) still alive. It’s all over Facebook … but he says their (sic) dead and he made them think she’s alive …

“But everything he says don’t made sense app (apparently) he killed her in dec 2008…”

The witness wrote in the diary that “they found her top” and “no one knows who she is”.

A T-shirt with the word “Angelic” branded across the front was found with Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s bones in 2008.

In a bid to identify the remains, police released a photograph of the T-shirt. However she remained unidentified for five years.

Another witness told police that Holdom claimed he stomped on Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s throat, crushed her windpipe and left her body next to a log.

Police alleged Holdom also admitted to killing Khandalyce, telling the same witness she suffocated.

Holdom is accused of stealing more than $70,000 from Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s bank account, mostly in the form of Centrelink payments, in the years after her death.

Finding the prosecution had a “compelling circumstantial case”, Magistrate Les Mabbutt committed Holdom to stand trial for two counts of murder.

The case was adjourned to October 6.

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Millions missing in Chinese visa fraud racket

It was a glamorous musical showcase at the Sydney Opera House.

In front of an audience that included Nauru’s President Baron Waqa, violinist Harmonnia Junus performed a selection of classical music and popular Taiwanese folk songs with an orchestra.

But several members of Sydney’s Chinese community claim the million-dollar violin in her hand and the appearance of Taiwan’s Evergreen Symphony Orchestra in July 2015 were largely funded by her father, Teddy Junus, using the proceeds of a multimillion-dollar immigration racket.

Mr Junus – a wealthy north shore businessman who boasted of networking with Tony Abbott, Andrew Robb and Kevin Rudd – is accused of rorting the system for subclass 457 and 163 visas, taking between $15,000 and $310,000 from dozens of hopeful migrants, most of whom were left with nothing.

The case, which is being investigated by NSW Police and the federal Department of Immigration, exposes the murky world of unlicensed migration agents and visa services exploiting the tens of thousands of Chinese people who are desperate to come to Australia.

“In the Chinese community, this sort of business is always based on reputation. If someone says he is very experienced, he is helpful, he can do a lot of things, then people trust him,” said one alleged fraud victim, Mr Sing, who said he was once a close friend of Mr Junus’ but is now owed $790,000.

All five victims that Fairfax Media interviewed asked to be identified by their surnames only, partly due to embarrassment and fear.

They said they were referred to Mr Junus, 43, by friends and business partners who knew of his initial success in obtaining visas. They were told to pay half the fee upfront and sign handwritten agreements since proven worthless.

Mr Junus’ now-abandoned Pitt Street office was once adorned with photos of him with Mr Rudd, Phillip Ruddock and the Buddhist religion master Hsing Yun.

He was pictured with Mr Abbott, former trade minister Mr Robb and Clive Palmer at government-run Chinese business networking events.

However, he has since gone to ground, moving out of his East Killara mansion and abandoning his office after a female victim threatened to die by suicide there due to missing money.

“I made the biggest mistake in my life in believing him. We used our cash and also borrowed from friends to lend to him and then he ‘disappeared’,” said another alleged victim, Mr Zhou, in China. “This has almost broken my life and our whole family.”

Mr Junus falsely advertised himself as a migration agent, telling hopeful Chinese migrants that he could obtain visas and then permanent residency.

In some instances, he obtained 457 visas by claiming people were employees of companies he set up. In other cases, he set up import/export businesses for people so they would qualify for a 163 or “sponsored business owner” visa.

One businessman paid $865,000 to get 457 and permanent residency visas for 10 friends and relatives, according to a statement of claim filed in the NSW District Court in one of five civil suits.

The businessman obtained a bankruptcy order in March but trustees have not been able to find Mr Junus or his money.

In the five civil claims, totalling $1.3 million, victims say they were often instructed to make payments into Chinese bank accounts.

One victim, Mrs Hu, was introduced to Mr Junus because she wanted to get permanent residency so her daughter could go to high school in Sydney.

“He said Mrs Hu can be employed in Teddy’s company. He only needed one [employee] but he’d say he needed 20 or 30 [employees]. He said the company can pay Mrs Hu her money back as a ‘salary’ and the government will see he pays a lot of tax so they will give PR quickly,” her daughter told Fairfax Media.

She paid $150,000 upfront but, more than two years on, has not seen a visa.

Mr Junus has proved elusive to his alleged victims and to the authorities.

ASIC prosecuted him in Sutherland Local Court this year when he disappeared without handing company information over to liquidators for one of his companies, Crown International Enterprises.

Between 20 and 30 victims have established a support group on China’s social network, Weibo, and say they are owed several million dollars.

A former employee confirmed that, in the midst of victims’ desperate pleas for money, Mr Junus paid $100,000 to Taiwan’s Chang Yung-Fa Foundation to fund the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra’s tour of Australia. In December, his wife sold their East Killara mansion for $2.45 million.

Mr Junus, who also goes by the name Hsiung Chung, declined to speak to Fairfax Media by phone, saying: “I’m in a meeting.”

His lawyer Chris Ford declined to comment, citing the ongoing police investigation.

Mr Ford said he was only retained to deal with the criminal investigation and could not comment on why Mr Junus has evaded creditors and ASIC, and ignored civil court orders.

A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokeswoman said that “appropriate investigations were under way”.

“Visa and migration fraud is a serious matter with significant consequences,” she said.

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Jackson’s road gets overhaul

The NSW government will provide more than $500,000 in funding to curb further crashes on the Dipper, the infamous and dangerous spot on the Central Coast that took teenager Jackson Williams’ life a year ago.

Jackson Williams, 17, was one of four passengers in a car driven by a new P-plater that crashed into a pole after travelling too fast over a culvert known as “The Dipper” on Willoughby Road, Wamberal.

His mother Michelle Williams said she hoped the traffic-calming devices set to be placed at each entrance to the “dip” would ensure safer travelling speeds over the culvert.

“Knowing that action to reduce the risk of a similar crash occurring has given us some solace,” she said.

The culvert, known as The Dipper, was renowned to generations of young and old drivers because the steepness of the dip gave a sensation of flying.

On Monday, the Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks and NSW MP Adam Crouch will announce $505,000 funding from NSW Government’s Safer Roads program.

It will pay for a range of initiatives to slow traffic and stop drivers from getting a sensation in their stomachs due to the steepness of the dip. These include raised reflective pavement markers, rumble strips along the edge line, a new “stop” sign and traffic calming on the approach to dips, and the sealing of the local road.

The move follows a petition started by Lindy Hewett, a woman who lived near the crash that had been the site of other fatalities and near misses over the years, and lobbying by Ms Wicks at federal and state level.

In July, The Sun-Herald detailed the impact of the crash on the Williams’ family and others. The Sun-Herald’s editorial has called for new rules to reduce the number of new P platers dying in crashes, including tougher rules to stop groups of teenagers from riding in cars driven by new P platers at all times of day.

The driver – who had his Ps for just over two weeks – was convicted of dangerous driving occasioning death. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, and his licence was suspended for three years.

He can’t be identified because he was a minor at the time of the crash.

Mrs Wicks said Jackson’s death had “caused immense sadness across the Central Coast community” and led to a resolve that to fix this stretch of road,

The investment was an example of both state and federal governments working together to protect the future of our communities.

“This financial year the NSW Community Road Safety Fund is estimated to save the equivalent of 419 deaths and serious injuries over the life of the projects.”

In collaboration with Central Coast Council, all work except for traffic calming is set to be completed this financial year (2017/18). Traffic calming is expected to be completed by the end of next year, with the total investment $505,000.

Ms Williams said her family was thankful to Lindy Hewitt and Lucy Wicks.

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A place that makes refugees feel welcome

Austalian actor, Brian Brown spends time with childen Karmel, Stella, Miar and Sam at the activities tent during the opening of the House Of Welcome, a refugee support centre in Granville, Sydney on Saturday, 26 August 2017. Photo by Cole Bennetts Austalian actor, Brian Brown spends time with childen Karmel, Stella, Miar and Sam at the activities tent during the opening of the House Of Welcome, a refugee support centre in Granville, Sydney on Saturday, 26 August 2017. Photo by Cole Bennetts

When Khatereh Rabiei??? arrived in Australia from her native Iran four years ago she had no job references and little English but big hopes for the future.

The qualified accountant lived in Adelaide for a year before resettling in Sydney where life was initially hard.

“I couldn’t speak English at first and I couldn’t find a home because I didn’t have any references,” she recalled. “It was a big problem for me.”

A family member advised her to visit the House of Welcome, a long-running refugee and asylum seeker service in Sydney’s west.

“They were very supportive and so helpful, I am so grateful for what they have done,” she said.

The mother of two teenage children from Sydney’s north west is now studying English at TAFE while volunteering at the House of Welcome as well as at a school library.

“It’s good experience because I can put it on my resume,” Mrs Rabiei, who volunteers for the House of Welcome’s catering social enterprise, said.

“In Australia if you don’t have a resume it’s hard to find a job in the future. It’s given me self-confidence and that has had a big effect on me.”

Mrs Rabiei is one of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who have been assisted by the House of Welcome since it was established in 2001.

It was originally housed in a disused butcher’s shop in Carramar, a building it outgrew because of the increasing need for support for new arrivals.

Saturday marked the official opening of its new and expanded premises, a former convent in South Granville with enough space for on-site English classes, advocacy work, employment programs, the catering enterprise and community events.

Actor and refugee advocate Bryan Brown said the House of Welcome, its staff and 100 volunteers played a significant role in helping people who had fled their homelands find their feet in Australia.

“It must be deeply difficult and painful to have to flee your own country so I, and a lot of other Australians, want to help,” he said.

“Australians want to make sure the people they live with in this country get a fair go and are able to live as decent a life as possible. Helping out is part of our DNA.”

The Australian government announced it would settle an extra 12,000 refugees in 2015, in addition to the existing humanitarian intake of 13,750 in 2015-16 and 13,750 in 2016-17.

Lyn Harrison, chief executive of St Francis Social Services, which operates the House of Welcome, said the need for support was increasing.

“People need the basics: accommodation, furniture, financial assistance, food,” she said. “We never seem to have enough food to give people.”

But once their clients, who predominantly come from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Africa, receive assistance they thrive.

“These people have amazing determination and resilience but when a person first arrives in a new country, social isolation is one of the biggest problems,” she said.

“To have a place where they know they can come and feel welcome, that makes a huge difference to people.”

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Nicole Helps – Decide on an investment property

If a property remains empty or tenants don’t pay, your money would be better off in the bank. Photo: SuppliedHi Nicole, I’m looking to buy an investment property outright for under $250,000. It would be my first property purchase and as I do not currently work, I couldn’t obtain a mortgage to stretch the budget but am increasingly sick of low-yield term deposits. I am familiar with the property-buying process but know nothing of the rental process and what sort of contingency funds I should have set aside. In regards to type of property, I’m ruling almost nothing out but definitely will be buying near a train station and ideally with a parking space around the Melbourne suburbs. Would love your feedback on the decision itself and the process. – Anita, Melbourne

Umm, that might prove tricky Anita. There’s not much around, even in the suburbs, for $250,000 any more. You’ll almost certainly be limiting yourself to an apartment, and remember there’s talk of an oversupply of apartments in Melbourne, which could affect both your investment value and potential rent.

You may have better luck in the regions – compare some median prices on Domain’s suburb profiler (owned by Fairfax Media).

In any case, the thing to remember is that property has the highest entry costs of any investment, so you want to be able to hold on to anything you buy for as long as possible (locking up your money).

In Victoria, stamp duty has just been abolished on first homes worth under $600,000. But not on first investments. (If you lived in it for a year, you could save more than $10,000.)

You’ll also accrue some legal/conveyancing and inspection fees from the transaction. A couple of thousand dollars or more, perhaps.

In terms of set-up and ongoing costs, there are rates, possibly water (although some tenants now pay this), potentially strata fees (check these before you buy), landlord’s insurance and maintenance and repair. If you decide to go with a rental management company rather than manage the property yourself, you’ll forego an average 6-8 per cent of the rent (and maybe a week or so rent extra if they need to replace a tenant).

You’ll need to keep aside a bit of money for this at the outset – principally for landlord’s insurance (which is building insurance plus specific cover for things like malicious damage by tenants) – and, vitally, maintain a cash stash for big repairs and bills (and hold back enough for the tax on your assessable income; get an accountant, tax deductible, to help claim all available depreciation).

Paying by cash, you do avoid the major risk factor for landlords: void periods without tenants – or money for the mortgage. Except of course, then your (depleted) funds will have been better off in the bank.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a money educator and consumer advocate: themoneymentorway南京夜网. You can write to her for help solving your money problem, or with a consumer question, at [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

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